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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


We Traffic Police are justly proud of our record in apprehending speeding motorists. We have amassed thousands of pounds in fines for our Recreation Fund and have had unrivalled fun in doing so.

We had believed that not a driver in the region remained un-fined. This pride, however, was cruelly crushed by Miss Dora Threadgarden.

A comparison of those fined with vehicle owners in the area revealed that Miss Threadgarden had never received a ticket. We immediately deployed a team of our best officers to the case, setting up an observation and incident centre in the house opposite to hers in Magnolia Rise. It transpired that the ‘Target’ was a sixty-two year old ex-schoolteacher. She had been a lifelong Quaker and local philanthropist. She was well respected in the community and had never been guilty of even a minor offence. Even more difficult, from our perspective, was that she was the ‘one careful owner’ of a 1961 Ford Anglia.

Initially, we were undaunted and adopted our normal tactic of following her in a series of unmarked police cars wherever she drove. After six months, and with the cost of the operation running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, the closest we had got to a kill was twenty-eight miles per hour in a thirty miles per hour zone. At this point we called in a psychological profiler who imparted the devastating news that the Target was pathologically law-abiding.

It was then that the boys at Forensic came to our rescue. The speedometer in a car senses the velocity of the vehicle from the speed of rotation of a road wheel. A wheel with a larger diameter also has a greater circumference. This means that one rotation of a larger wheel moves a vehicle further along the road than one rotation of a smaller wheel. The speedometer is calibrated based on the normal diameter of a wheel with a properly inflated tyre. If, somehow, the wheels on Miss Threadgarden’s Anglia could be increased in diameter by one centimetre, the boffins calculated that she would actually be travelling at thirty-one miles per hour when her speedometer was only registering twenty-nine. Furthermore, such an excess inflation would occur if the air temperature reached that of an English summer heatwave, due to the increase in pressure resulting from the heating of the tyres.

So it was that nearly one hundred plain-clothes officers with speed detectors were positioned along Magnolia Rise at the hottest time of an August day as the Target motored from her driveway.

We got her! Thirty point zero five miles per hour!

The team was jubilant. I ran down five pedestrians in my rush to tell the lads at the pub.

The only downside was the attitude of the Target who politely apologised and promised to be more careful in future. She had intended to give what was now her sixty pounds fine to a hospice for orphaned children, but she stoically resolved to still scrape that donation from her pension somehow.

The lack of anger or tears was very disappointing. What can you do with these sorts of people?